Vietnamese Coffee (ca phe sua) is an amazing thing – smooth, thick, layered with condensed milk, it goes down like a caffeinated version Mexican hot chocolate, it feels bad for … Continue reading The Secret to Vietnamese Coffee
Ever wondered why almost anything you buy comes with a year long warranty?
I mean, it’s clearly not the most reassuring part of buying a product – yes, I’ll buy this flat screen TV, would I like the one year warranty? Why? Do you expect your product to go bust or maybe fall off the wall in a year?
The logic of buying a ONE year insurance policy on an expensive piece of equipment has always mistified me, so I’ve never bought it. Consequently, everything usually “mysteriously” dies around 11 months (looking at you old MP3 player who broke me heart, also, computer – you better not be thinking of giving up the ghost).
On the flip side, I’m sure if I did pay $55.99 for a warranty, everything would start to die around the 357 day mark.
As my year comes to a close, so many things have started falling apart it’s like my luggage knows it needs to lose a few pounds in anticipation of carrying Christmas presents (selfishly, mainly to myself) back. It automatically put itself on Weight Watchers and at the same time signed up for a class in Minimalism and is just shedding things like a golden retriever in the summer.
THE “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, YOU’LL BE MISSED” LIST
- Sunglasses: I’m not sure what happened, we’d been together for years, your big funky yellow and purple frames made people think I was “slightly cool” and also “unaware of my head size,” but last week you collapsed. Your frame gave up and said, “our time together has been great, but you need to see out of someone else now”
- Cargo Pants: I know what happened to you, you weren’t quite prepared to handle my proportions over such a long distance. I tried stitching you up (three times!) But now it’s time to face facts, you seem to have self-sacrificed yourself so that people won’t make fun of me for wearing cargo pants back in the States, it is very thoughtful of you – RIP.
- Leather Hand Bag: The other night at dinner you tried to make a run for it, your strap just broke. I’m not writing you a thank you letter yet, because I refuse to believe that this is the end – I’ve sent you to a repair shop, our parting is only temporary.
- Sneakers: You literally got filled with cement and buried yourself, I’m not sure anything has left me so definitively.
- Hiking Shoes: You are hanging on by a bare thread, you might as well be sandals for the amount of socks I can see. I’m really hoping you can make it another week because unless I find a replacement I’m flying home to Seattle, in the winter, in a summer dress, a pair of socks and flip-flops. If you can’t make it, I cannot thank you enough for getting me through a whole year of (thousands?) miles. You’ve been the best.
If I believed in signs, everything breaking would be a sign that it is time to go home – see you soon mulled wine and cookies.
They say that before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I would like to say that perhaps before, before you’re going to maybe die, your future life flashes before your eyes.
Take for instance, the last hour of my life, half of which was spent actively thinking it was the last hour of my life. What flashed? Besides light bulbs? The end of decisions. A vast chasm of thoughts like, “I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a job, or finding a health care plan, or having to sign up for dating apps – or dating, or finding an apartment, or a couch” – a complete end to decisions.
The “End of Decisions” flash was brought on by the decision to get in a car. A car that had to drive an hour to the train station, because the railway tracks were not brave enough to come up that high in the mountain that was covered in so much fog you could literally only see white, and it was dark outside.
There was zero visibility and there were no seatbelts.
The car wound itself around the turns as though it were a rollercoaster on a set track, expertly, like it had done it a thousand times before, but also a little jagged, like it was surprised that mountain turned.
“At least we have our passports so they can identify our bodies” my friend said as it looked as though we could have driven off the side of an unmarked cliff. Her next thought, as we went into on coming traffic to pass an 18 Wheeler, was about where her zip lock bags were – in case she needed to throw up
For one reason or another (mostly skill and a lot of luck) the End of Decisions did not come, damn you Real Life still making me face you in the mirror.
Only three weeks to go before I am back in the US and need to start making decisions again.
For reference – if anyone goes to Sapa, Vietnam and does the same route back to the railway station, just consider it an amusement park ride without a waiting line.
You know when you can’t sleep at night and you just toss around like a lumpy sack of potatoes? And then you realize that you probably shouldn’t have had coffee at 3pm? Especially not when you’ve been a tea drinker for years and this entire year has been such a caffeine-lessened year your body might as well just be full of water?
Well, after Vietnamese coffee (which is delicious) the experience of being a lumpy sack of potatoes gets hightened into being a lumpy sack of potatoes that knows it’s destined for the slicer and the frier.
It was 3am, we were waking up early to ride motorbikes from Hoi An to Hue, an 8 hr journey, “the same one the Top Gear guys did.” It would take us around the Marble Mountains, through the 32 km of gorgeous Da Nang Beach and then way, way up into the Hai Van Pass (ocean-cloud pass).
It was 3am and my brain was telling me not to get on the bike. To be clear, I wasn’t even driving the bike. I was merely riding it while someone else, someone very experienced was driving it. My brain was envisioning itself being flung off the Pass, my body rolling down the hill like that sack of potatoes. My brain was saying that if I don’t die, tomorrow will definitely be the last day that I walk.
Good thing whoever was reading those coffee beans did a bad job, because I didn’t get flung off the Pass, and I am still walking, and except for about an hour where I kept saying to myself, “try and remember what walking feels like in case this really is the last day,” it went great and I loved it.
So everyone, face your fears (even the nonsensical ones) and to all the governments out there, if you’re looking for a new torture device, I’ve got a cheap method to sell you.
PS – I did this trip with my parents, and they had none of these fears, A) they are (mostly) immune to the effects of coffee and B) they are way cooler than me
Hoi An, Vietnam – the cutest town that there ever was is perfect for a (probably culturally inappropriate) romantic comedy with a budget big enough to travel. The hallmark of … Continue reading Situations in Vietnam that Would Make Good Meet-Cutes in a Romantic Comedy
“There is no one left on the train” said my father as my mother and I looked up from our game of cards.
We looked at him weirdly and then got out of our cabin to inspect the situation.
Indeed, the train was empty. As if Murder on the Orient Express had just happened en masse, and in the game of “whodunnit” the only suspects would be “Ms Short, and Mr & Mrs Parents.”
Luckily, before we could fully contemplate our fate: Vietnamese prison or endless days walking along a section of track whose GPS coordinates were stubbornly not communicating with Google – two men appeared.
They said something in Vietnamese, obviously we did not understand. They typed it into a version of Google Translate, “must get off the train here, take a bus and then get back on the train.”
“So that’s what all those announcements were” said the imaginary cloud bubbles above our heads.
Our rescuers smiled at us as what was happening dawned on us: either the train had broken down, or, part of the track needed to be fixed after the typhoon last week.
Two seconds later, another English speaking couple (the only other English speaking couple) peered out of their cabin. Our rescuers asked us if we would speak English to them and explain – it was like a giant game of Telephone being played with real telephones – a lot was lost in translation – the couple didn’t want to leave because they had small sleeping children with them.
Eventually, we all made it off the train, rejoined the rest of our fellow night-train travellers, waited for our bus to arrive, got on the bus and then made it to the next train, where luckily, eight hours later, someone knocked on our door and told us to get out – at, luckily, the right stop.
“What do you feel like eating for dinner?” “Something cheap” “Lobster?” A town where lobsters are not only plentiful, but also cheap street fare is like a foodie version of … Continue reading A Town Where Lobster is Cheaper Than Pizza
Where do Russians go when they don’t want to escape Russians, but they need a break from Russia? The beachfront town of Nha Trang, Vietnam. Transported by over six hundred … Continue reading “Russians Seeking Sun,” a Title Suggestion for Light Hearted Documentary
After a slight respite, I’m back on The Road. Welcome to Vietnam, a country of 91M people. Current location: Ho Chi Minh City, population, approximately 8M, number of scooters and … Continue reading How to Cross the Street in Asia: A Step by Step Guide
One of modern life’s great moments of anticipation: the luggage carousel, that familiar, “will they, or won’t they?” game your brain plays with you as you wait for your bags. You watch everyone else pluck their intended from the line and move on, to carry on with their lives. Sometimes, you’re one of them – one of the Lucky Ones.
And sometimes, you stand alone, beside nothing, pre-mourning your stuff. An Unlucky One.
Yesterday, I was an Unlucky One. I waited patiently, at a carousel that was unloading two flights. I watched everyone from my flight leave.
Head down in remorse, I went to the Baggage Claim Office.
My luggage, in it’s desire to see the world, had decided not to disembark the plane. It decided to carry on to the next destination.
Customer Service assured that me, if, someone at the next destination read the report she just issued, my bag would get back to me around 10pm. If not, definitely the next day.
“I’m travelling to Sydney tomorrow, if the bag doesn’t make it by then, what happens?”
“We can send it to Sydney, you would just have to pick it up at the airport.”
Okay. She handed me a WhatsApp number and told me they would text me if they heard anything.
Problem was, my bag was a bag without a name. The systems were down in Mulu, so, unable to print luggage tags, they just wrote on the destination (Miri) on a piece of paper, “MYY”. So, my bag was untrackable. It was basically single and ready to mingle.
I, on the other hand, was single and ready for a shower. My brain immediately went to thoughts of “how long will these smelly, dried-sweat filled clothes last – will they make it 24hrs?”, “Will they make it onto the next plane? And if they do, will the people next to me start to complain about holding their nose for eight hours?” Without my luggage I was a stinky-time bomb that no one would want on a plane.
Like most things, you don’t realize what you had, till it’s gone. But, like a good relationship, a break doesn’t necessarily mean a break-up.
At 10pm my bag showed up, looking a little naughty – but hey, what happens in Cargo Hold, stays in Cargo Hold.